Consider this blog post the “what the Gaineys are doing for Advent and Christmas” post. I simply wanted to get this shared sooner rather than later in case you’re considering plans for your own family. However, I have a more important post that will be coming next regarding the principles behind family rhythms in Advent – so please don’t skip it!
In the past few years, I’ve learned more about the early church and liturgical church calendar, and I have to admit – these liturgies have become quite endearing to my heart, both personally as well as in our home culture and family lifestyle. Slowly, we’ve adopted more and more liturgies in various ways, and the joy and tradition found in these liturgies plays a part in how we are going to shift our schedule and rhythms this Advent and Christmas season.
Take a moment and imagine the early church centuries ago. Imagine that Thanksgiving has passed, and now you are entering Advent. Imagine that Advent was actually a quieter, slower and more contemplative time. Imagine that after Thanksgiving Day, stores closed, streets were quiet, and distractions were removed so that we could anticipate the coming of Christ. Shopping and even decorating is postponed until Christmas Eve.
Then, on Christmas Day, all of the lights, laughter, music, feasting, and celebration begins! And it doesn’t end at midnight, but lasts 12 days! A true 12 days of Christmas!
This is the tone our family hopes to adopt more this Advent and Christmas season.
Now, we obviously cannot force our entire culture around us to change this, as evidenced by Christmas decor being out in October! But I do believe that we can control our own calendar and schedule of activities in such a way that helps prepare our hearts for more of a quieter anticipation, as well as a fuller celebration that lasts beyond Christmas Day, with the hope of such a practice launching us into a full year of celebrating the reality of the incarnation of Christ!
Now, if you don’t want to look at everything we are doing, and want my favorite and simplest suggestion for how to enjoy Advent, with just one resource to help streamline things, I would strongly recommend Cindy Rollins’ Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions with Handel’s Messiah. This is a resource we used last year, and I can see us returning to it every year in the future – it truly arranges very simply what I believe to be timeless and classic elements for celebrating Advent. We read her daily scripture that accompanies the daily listening piece from Handel’s Messiah right before bedtime, and it’s so special, yet simple. Additionally, she arranges weekly scripture memory, poetry, and hymns that we have fit into our rhythms as well with a weekly Advent tea. If you are looking for one special yet simple resource that captures the heart of Advent, let me recommend this one. Then enjoy reading about the traditions others share in it, and consider which you’d like to take for your own family this season. Here’s a recent podcast episode that is a fun listen about this book!
How we use Cindy’s book specifically is on the first page of this document, and then the second page includes other daily activities that we are doing.
So, with that framework in mind, here are our plans this Advent and Christmas season. I’ve put it in a google doc for my own use, but also in case any of you want to simply make a copy of it and edit it for your own planning purposes! I pray you find it helpful. And watch out…I’m likely to edit it from day to day. 😉